Purim: Rehavia has its fill of the megila

One of the newer congregations in Jerusalem that have attracted a large, young English-speaking population is Chabad Rehavia

Religious men drink on Purim 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Religious men drink on Purim 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
One of the newer congregations in Jerusalem that have attracted a large, young English-speaking population is Chabad Rechavia, headed by Canadian-born Rabbi Yisroel Goldberg.
His co-director is his wife, Shoshana.
Most Chabad emissaries have a talent for attracting people to their Chabad Houses or their synagogues, but Goldberg stands head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to marketing his product. Though outwardly calm, the man is a dynamic bundle of energy, constantly dreaming up new ways of attracting more people and enlarging his already large congregation, which meets in the basement of the Rehavia Windmill, where there is a relatively large courtyard for the overflow of men and women on Sabbath and festivals.
But this Purim was really something else.
Goldberg decided to have hourly megila readings, and the place was packed throughout Sunday night and all through Monday. In addition to services at Chabad Rechavia, he also had readings at nearby eateries on Aza Road and Keren Kayemet Street.
On Sunday night, I went to session three at Chabad Rechavia after listening to Dr. Michael Goldstein, who was clad in a Superman costume, render a perfect reading of the Book of Esther at the Hazvi Yisrael congregation in Talbiyeh, where I usually attend services.
At the approach to Chabad Rechavia, families who had attended the second reading were coming out of the basement to make their way home, and their places were quickly seized by crowds of young people – mostly singles – who were coming from all directions.
Some were dressed in costume, more were not, but all were intent on reaching the same destination.
On Monday morning, I went to two of the eateries where readings were being conducted. The ones on Aza Road and on Keren Kayemet were both packed to capacity. On the way home, I stopped for a moment at Chabad Rechavia, and there was a large crowd there as well.
The Chabad theme song “Ufaratzta,” taken from Genesis 28:14, speaks of spreading to the west, to the east, to the north and to the south. That’s what they’re doing all over Jerusalem, especially in Rehavia, where Goldberg’s success is all the more remarkable, considering that there are more than a dozen synagogues within a 15- minute walking radius of the Chabad Rechavia premises, which includes at least three Chabad services.
One of the secrets, but certainly not the secret, of Goldberg’s success is that he holds a kiddush every Saturday after the service, thus creating a regular social network that also has spiritual content. It may become a lot easier for him to do this now that Heimishe Essen, one of the most veteran meat eateries in Rehavia, has moved from Keren Kayemet to the Rehavia Windmill. •